March 21, 2017
DIAMOND BAR, CA--During the spring open house season, families flock to schools for an evening dedicated to showcasing student work, performances, and spending a few moments with teachers.
At Evergreen Elementary, something special also happens outside the decorated classrooms - under the night sky.
For the past five years, Walnut High’s astronomy club has been trekking their high-powered telescopes to the Diamond Bar campus for its annual Star Party.
The teens set up two giant star gazers on the blacktop and children line up to get a close-up look at visible planets, bright stars, the moon, and Orion Nebula, the closest star formation to Earth.
This year, clear skies allowed viewing of another glowing dot in the sky – Venus.
Junior Ryan Shen, the club’s president, organized the two-hour event held on March 8, with fellow members operating telescopes and explaining what the instruments were trained on, said teacher and advisor Mike Yamashiro.
“The only unknown we have is control of the weather,” said Yamashiro, explaining that one year the event was postponed three times due to too much cloud cover.
The teens also offered games during the Star Party, like Ring Around the Planet where students tossed hula hoops over a large glowing planet (an exercise ball with lights) without knocking it off its base.
Winners took home a pack of Starbursts candy, of course!
The high-powered 11” refractors are GPS computerized to automatically guide over 40,000 objects.
The club funded one of the $3,000 beauties by selling hotdogs after school for two years.
A second identical telescope was generously donated by scout master Ken Tragarz and family.
Boy scout troop 737 was on hand cooking up tasty Dutch-oven brownies and hot chocolate for parents and children at the Star Party.
“We’re so grateful to Walnut High’s astronomy club and our local boy scouts for providing this exceptional evening for our students,” said Principal Carolyn Wills. “We have fun and learn too – the perfect combination!”
“We look forward to keeping this tradition and working with other WVUSD schools who would like some telescopes out for an evening under the stars,” Yamashiro added.
By Kelli Gile, Office of Community Resources
Walnut High Astronomy Club hosted its annual Star Party at Evergreen Elementary School's Open House.